Are You Doing What You Love?

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What would it be like to love your work every minute? I mean absolutely thinking of nothing else: getting up each day and having pure excitement over what the day holds for you. Are you doing exactly what you really want to do?

Whether you are a solo-entrepreneur, self-employed in some form, or even working part-time or full-time for someone else, you can be doing what you love. After a very enjoyable career in publishing, and after five years as an entrepreneur, I am finally doing exactly what I have longed to do my whole life. Who knew?

A Common Experience
There is a saying about how we attract people that are looking for similar answers in life. So, of course, many of my clients come to me to get clear on what they want or what their niche or brand should be. With my business coaching hat on, I listen and ask questions, help them dig deep and eventually they find clarity and discover more of what they truly want. Sometimes I’d much rather just wear my consultant hat and say, “Here’s what I see. It’s clear that you’re most passionate about xyz, so that’s what you should do.” It’s so easy to see clarity in others than in ourselves sometimes.

Trying to Do it All
Since I have always stayed within the publishing, printing and (in more recent years) online industries, I am always intrigued and entertained with my work for the most part. But, when I became an entrepreneur, and in an attempt to not miss any income opportunities, I tried to be everything to everyone. I felt I had heard my calling, found my brand and nailed my niche, but looking back, I was all over the place within the publishing, branding and marketing arenas. I often heard myself saying, “Yes, I can help you with that,” or “Sure, we can pull that together for you.” I realized my niche was nada and my brand was a bust. It felt like, “Call Brad, he can do it all.”

Then I decided I only wanted to do what I love. Unfortunately, I love to work, enjoy knowing and being good at many things, and love being the “answer guy.” When I learned a couple years ago (with no great surprise!) that I had adult ADD, it explained why I was distracted with every shiny new piece of software and exciting email marketing secret! However, I still chose to focus: “What is it that I really love? What do I want to spend most of my time doing? What will be most fulfilling and satisfying?”

How I Learned What I Loved
I realized I could continue to try to do it all or simply look at what I am doing now and decide what I enjoy most. I quickly realized I was already doing what I loved. I just needed to cut out what I was not that passionate about, and do more of what I loved most. It wasn’t an overnight discovery, but a process of trial and error, focused and intentional. As I look back at my process now, I can see the path I took and how it helped me get very clear on what I loved and how I wanted to spend my time and run my business. The process I discovered turned out to be five key steps. Here they are:

#1 Look at The Landscape: Consider your current work and your day-to-day activities and overall responsibilities. Which tasks and activities bring you joy, perk-up your passion and make your heart sing? Which ones bring you more income or have potential of growing your income? Which ones are easiest to do? Sort them out into three categories:

  1. Favorite and Most Enjoyable Activities
  2. Easiest to Do
  3. Create Good Income

Notice what is common in the three categories.

#2 Review Your Resume: Now compare these top activities to your career history. Where do they show up in previous jobs or activities? Even consider volunteer work. Did you do similar activities before and were they as fun, easy and enjoyable then too? Go back to you first jobs. What similar activities did you do in your early career years and still show up today as enjoyable? Update your three categories with this new information.

#3 Survey Your Strengths: Consider what you do that really uses your best strengths. This is all about what you are best at. What is easy for you? What really leverages your talents, skills, knowledge, training and education, while still being enjoyable? Compare your strengths against the items in your three categories. Update your list with activities that best use your strengths.

#4 Revisit the Younger You: Reflect back on your childhood activities. What games did you play? What role did you always take? Did you have a play office or lemonade stand back then? A business in the basement? What was fun? What were you doing then, that still shows up today? Add this information to your lists.

#5 Find the Common Threads: Now take a look at your list. Add more notes. Be more reflective. If it feels overwhelming, just close your eyes and measure them against your heartbeat. Which ones really make your heart sing? In a more practical way, narrow them down until you get to the top three. What’s left? How do they feel? Now really look for the common thread of enjoyment and passion through this whole process. What stands out for you? What is there that you haven’t seen before that you know to be absolutely true?

What I Love
By using the process I outlined above, I was able to realize that I have been doing what I love my whole life. Even as a ten-year-old, I edited and published a mimeographed newspaper in my home farm town of 800 people. I helped my mom publish the church bulletin every week and newsletter every month. I had a few basement businesses, where I set-up my own office and went door-to-door selling my wares, earning money to buy a new bicycle, more 45s and my first pair of bellbottoms. I was publishing and marketing, and creating new brands every six months, whenever I had a new idea. Hmmm. Where does that show up today? So looking at what I wanted most to do today, I just decided to focus my work. Sure, I can do a variety of things, but I am most passionate about creating tangible, published products, and branding and marketing new businesses.

I have come full circle and am more grounded than ever, knowing what I love to do. What if you could wake up each and every day knowing you absolutely love what you do?